Thursday, July 28, 2011

Colorado Trail Hike

Each of the past five days has been partially devoted to studying the Colorado Trail. I have read trip reports, watched a number of trip videos, consulted the website and guidebook, and looked into a gear setup for such a trip.

At this point, I am convinced that I can complete the 485 mile journey from Denver to Durango in 14 days at an average of 34.7 miles per day. This is ambitious, I know, but I also believe that it is quite doable considering that I will certainly spend months conditioning my body for such a trip. I see the logistics involved in taking care of and being returned to my vehicle as problems that also need to be addressed.

I would gladly accept any input that experienced CT hikers have on this matter. Feel free to post information here on this blog or in an email to   Shane

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back to "Normal" - Peeking Back

Five days have passed since I finished the Silver Rush 50. In that time I have experienced a speedy recovery. That recovery started well with a thorough massage and continued with a most uncommon, for me, fourteen hour sleep.

That recovery continued as I slacked my way through a couple more days in the Leadville area before taking a round-about and relaxed drive back to Indiana. Amazingly, the good sleeps continued for several days as I crashed for 7-10 hours through Thursday night. It would be SO nice to have that happen more often.

On Thursday I tested the legs with as easy a ride as the suffocating heat and humidity would allow. I covered 25 hilly miles at 20 mph while sweating like a high pressure washer. Love that new Lifetime Fitness (great slogan!!) cycling kit! I also planned to run in a 4K XC race on Thursday evening, but it was cancelled due to the heat threat. So, I stretched and slept instead.

Friday morning I shifted back into my normal training mode. I would normally have waited until Saturday, but watching the Tour fired me up and I went out and hammered my way through a very hilly 34 mile ride at 23 mph - again in full blown sweat mode. That effort felt good since I never really approached a hard enough effort to take me out of the comfort zone. Honestly, I am amazed at how great my cycling has gone with limited mileage this year.

Today I woke up early with intentions to put in my "normal" long run of 45-60 minutes. I ended up going 45 while throwing in a couple miles of pace work to test the legs. All good! That was followed by an hour ride that tested the cycling strength with a fifteen minute hard effort.  Again, all is good!!

That means that I have resumed the normal training/fitness mode that I have maintained for 21 years. I'll run 15-20 mpw for the remainder of the year while I will try to maintain 60-80 mpw on the bike as life permits. The consistent efforts over the last 25 years have been geared toward keeping the body fit and healthy.

What's next? I don't know. There a several notes written in my journal. Planning for a variety of traveling and racing adventures has begun, but I honestly don't know what I will do next. I can't sit idle for long. What are your plans? Are you putting effort into making your life full and varied? I hope so!!

I'll close this post out with a few more pics taken from the recent adventures. Enjoy! Dream! Do!

Cairn to Heaven?

Family in NM
Wildfire in NM
Where is money box?
UT near Moab
Arches NP

Funmobile  - sadly, not mine . . .

Curious breakfast companion
Noisy, annoying breakfast companion

Ball mtn opposite of sunset

Sun sets in the west while . . .

 . . . Moon rises in the east

New friends!!
This dude needs a lesson or two in safe foot travel - and a shower!
Ate many of these - YUM!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Silver Rush 50 Report

My primary goal for this year's Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run was to finish strong. This goal was the result of my having come completely apart during the last 13 miles of last year's race. In that race, my quads were gone after I left the Printer Boy aid station with 13.5 miles to go. That meant that I suffered while I walked most of the way up the gravel road from 11,000 feet to 12,200 feet. The ten mile rolling gradual descent to the finish was a death march. My quads kept me from running a lot and my back gave out with about four miles to go, making it hard for me to even stand upright, let alone walk or run with balance.

During the last year I have worked hard on my core, building a powerful 8-pack and lower back muscles to match. I also converted ALL of my runs to the hilliest courses with hope that the 500-1500 feet of elevation gain each run would add up to better results. I am fully aware of the fact that a race of this distance, at this altitude, and with this vertical is completely outside my range. It is a perfect venue for stretching my envelope.

I also gained entry into the San Juan Solstice 50. My plan was to complete this brutal course with enough left in my quads to attempt the SR50 four weeks later. So, I took a camera and tried to not be competitive. I even backed off in the end when my knees started to ache on the Slumgullion descent. Smart move!

In the end, I do believe that my quads were not fully recovered for the SR50. Maybe the two 3K+ climbs I put in last weekend were a factor. Even though the legs felt great during those runs, the runs were only 60-90 minute efforts. Anything longer and I might have noticed my quads were not 100%. Maybe.

Race details: about 48 miles  - almost 8000 ft of climbing/descending - mostly horrible footing - sunny - start temp of 50F and finish temp (record) of 80F - La Sportiva Skylite 2.0 (perfect!) - Smart Wool Comp Socks - Brooks Infiniti III Short - RaceReady Sleeveless - Garmin 310XT - Indy Mesh Hat - Kinesys 30 Sunscreen - Nathan 1.5L Vest - Hammer Gels and Perpetuem - Nuun Electrolytes - POSITIVE ATTITUDE!

The plan was to mimic last year's exit splits of 2:03, 4:07, and 6:07 at the Printer Boy and Stumptown aid stations. I also wanted to move more efficiently through the aid stations. Last year I hung out for no good reason in each of those places - my sons crewed me well and did not contribute to my lolly gagging.  This year I had splits of 2:07, 3:57, and 5:56.

The aid station time was cut by about ten total minutes, so I was moving at about the same rate overall. The steep climbing was a bit slow, indicating that the quads were not 100%, but I seemed to be moving efficiently everywhere else.  Part of this was the adrenaline rush I got when passing the rest of the field near the turn-around. I LOVE out and back courses for this reason. I kept a smile on my face and constantly laid out my dry humor. I kept telling the people I passed on my return up the steep Ball Mtn pass trail to tell the guys behind me that I was smiling and sprinting. I did get winded as if I had been sprinting when I reached that 12,100 foot pass. It was right on the pass that I caught a guy and started to press the pace a little for the first time all day.

I must admit that I was ecstatic when I got back to Printer Boy due to how strong my legs felt! I was excited in my belief that I would go low-8 on a day with a record high temperature.

At the interim aid station in the gulch I was already 26 minutes ahead of last year's pace. This was because I had walked less than half of the climb up the gravel road and because I had run smoothly at an 8:0x pace down the gulch despite its challenging footing. I hit that aid station with a guy who had just over five minutes on me when we started down. I also caught glimpses of two other runners. Needless to say, I was psyched about this year's finish.

With about 3.5 miles to go I was still moving quickly when I started looking for the power lines we would pass under. Because my legs felt so strong as I left the last aid station, I decided to pick it up under those lines where there was relatively good footing - provided my legs still felt good. They did!

One poor decision, one moment that lacked attention, turned everything around. I looked up for the power lines while under the shade of trees and clipped a rock with my right foot. This section of trail has many embedded stones and should be run with focus. I experienced the hardest fall I've ever had on a trail when my second foot also clipped a rock as I tumbled forward. I should note that it is almost always my right toe that clips rocks and roots due to a sciatic-induced drag of the right leg which becomes more pronounced the longer I run. Surgery some day?

The fall resulted in both hands landing on a jagged rock that would have hit my face and both knees crashing into another jagged embedded stone. I then bounced onto my left side and skidded on more embedded rocks as I rolled over. Fun, fun, fun! Pain, pain, pain!

A few seconds later I was brushing myself off with bloody hands as I cursed myself. Stupid dork! Who looks up in the shade? Dorks, that's who! Idiot!

I then struggled to hit 12 minute pace during those last few rolling miles. Both knees swelled instantly. There was also the typical pain in my right hamstring that comes with catching a toe. It was hard to relax and not focus on the stupid move.

I finished 12th in 8:27. I wore the number 12 because I also finished 12th last year in 8:41. In a trend being experienced by trail races all over the country, there were almost twice as many entered this year. There were 279 finishers, 32 DNFs, 61 DNSs, and dozens of people walking around with open wounds from falls. The kind medical crew cleaned my wounds with a pesticide sprayer and they taped ice onto my knees. It was embarrassing to be more beat up by that one misstep than the other 750,00 steps along the route.

This was a great weekend. That is after I ignore the lack of sleep (30 min. Sat night!!) thanks to bears, men with guns, ATVs, and normal insomnia. And the sinus infection that came on Saturday morning. Yes, it was truly memorable. I saw old friends (including John) that I have met on previous adventures and new friends (including Tina) from the SJS50. And I made some new friends, most notably, Sergio and Robert.

Sergio and Robert rode in the SR50 bike race on Saturday. We hatched a plan to crew each other while in line at the Provin' Grounds on Thursday. It worked well, even though Robert reached Printer Boy much earlier than he thought he could while I was being held a mile away where the race course crossed a road. I was arriving about a half hour earlier than they had requested, but Robert smoked that first leg. Things went smoothly from there. We served each other well. Thanks, guys! We also enjoyed a couple of great meals and long conversations. Add these two guys to the list of awesome people I have met in these mountains.

The 2011 SR50 proved to be the physical and mental challenge that I expected and hoped it would be. I am walking away from this one with great satisfaction, lessons learned, and with one bruised and battered body. Yeah, Life IS Good!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Moab and Arches NP Photo Blog

The following pictures were taken during the two days I spent exploring a very small portion of Utah near Moab. They are from Hal Canyon along the Colorado River and inside Arches National Park. Several small but intense storms moved across the valley and canyon, creating some incredible color variations. It was a mostly sunny and hot day at Arches, but I got out early to take advantage of the soft colors created by the morning sun.

 The internet is moving quite slowly here in Leadville, so I will have to upload more later. There are many more! Double click on them to blow them up!

From the Hal Canyon area east of Arches NP and Moab.

From Arches NP. The rock formations have white man names, I don't care about that.

Opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Checking Out the Hardrock 100

I was fortunate enough to find myself back in the San Juans July 8-10. The purpose of my visit was to check out the incredibly difficult Hardrock 100 and, originally, to pace a guy who hoped to be among the elite of the race. However, just after I finished loading the RAV I received word from the runner that he had not gotten on his flight from Seattle due to issues with his wife's pregnancy.

The vehicle was ready to go, except for the cooler, so I got a good night of sleep before heading out on Thursday morning. Thursday evening I followed a custom of eating at a microbrewery. This time it was the eleven-month-old Colorado Mountain Brewery. The meal and beer were good, but a bit pricey.

After taking CO 24 west through the front range, I camped near Buena Vista. On Friday morning I ran for an hour, getting in over 3K vertical. The legs felt great going up and down. The one-hour ride that followed was made incredibly difficult by 40-50 mph crossing headwinds as I ascended the Arkansas valley for 12 miles. The return, of course, was fanflyingtastic!! Thanks to that same wind, several miles on the moderate downslope were clocked at just over a minute! 1:08, 1:07, 1:09, 1:13 - that IS flying folks. Big fun, except for the fact that the side gusts sometimes moved me 8-10 feet and, thus, into the lane of traffic.

Then it was on to Ouray where the Hardrock 56 mile aid station was located. That was where I was supposed to start my pacing duties with Miles. Once there, I put my name in with the station manager. She told me that a French runner named Daniel would be needing a pacer. I told her that I only wanted to go one or two aid stations. This would give me up to sixteen miles and 9K feet of vertical gain/loss. She requested that I go farther, but I told her about the SR50. Then I walked and waited for the runners to arrive.

When they did come, another Frenchman was leading. Julien Chorier led from start to finish, beating a host of very talented US mountain runners. Daniel Levy was in fifth place. When I approached him I was ready to pace him. So was another pacer. And he was willing to pace Daniel all the way to the finish. So he got the nod. I waited.

More than three hours passed after Julien came through before Mike Mason of NC came through in 14th place. Only a few of the leading runners looked strong with 44 miles to go.  Most, including Carl Meltzer, did not look good at all. The sun had set when Mike came through, but he had just passed more than a dozen people. I had been asked by a crew member and pacer to pace Mike to Telluride.

I went back to the RAV with an understanding that Mike would come through at 10 o'clock. He came through 33 minutes earlier and I missed him. So, I missed to opportunities to pace.

Thank goodness! Daniel overcame early GI issues and dropped the hammer. He actually put his talented pacer, Clark Fox, in difficulty a few times when he was feeling good. And the next day, it was Clark who was gimping around while Daniel strolled as if he had not even participated in one of the toughest races on Earth. Amazing! Hung out with the two on Saturday evening, driving Clark to Ouray to get his truck before sharing dinner with him and Daniel - on Daniel's dime.

We had a long conversation during and after the meal. Daniel was impressed with our freedoms and our lands. He was shocked by our over-consumption. And, from the moment he landed in Denver, he was appalled by our, in his word, "size." Daniel did admit that French youth are also becoming obese at an alarming rate. It seems US fast (fat) foods are on the increase in that nation.

I was excited to see Diana Finkel again. She was as humble as when I first met her on Handies Peak, even after winning the women's race and finishing in 5th place overall. She had dueled with Daniel throughout the second half of the race.

What fierce competitors they both Daniel and Diana were! And they both so kind to me and everyone who interacted with them. Daniel repeated many times that he could not have finished his run without Clark's aid. He must have thanked Clark fifty times.

At the award ceremony on Sunday morning it was the race director who was brought to tears when presenting Diana with her award. The crowd of several hundred echoed his response by giving her a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. Diana, with the mike in hand, told how the aid station director grabbed her and asked, "Have you PEED?" Diana assured her that she had. She also added that she had to pee while she was on stage. Many tears flowed. (Recall from an earlier post that she nearly died and spent many hours on dialysis after suffering from rhabdomyolsis, kidney failure, following the 2010 HR100.)

Two runners who I met on my previous visit to the area also faired quite well. Dakota Jones, aka Young Money, finished second overall. Matt Hart, who had hooked me up with Miles, finished 14th. These two are just two more of the outstanding people I met on this journey west.

I also met and had long conversations with several other people while waiting out the race. Some of them, I believe, will be long-term friends. The ultra community is an uncommonly friendly group that I am proud to be a part of  - for that part of the year that I am lucky enough to participate.

I must also add that Chris Gerber, an old friend from Evansville who now lives in the Denver area, finished 22nd in this crazy hard race. What a stud!! He complained about going out too hard, but his rock-steady pacing allowed him to finish in 36 hours 55 minutes. Can you even imagine putting your feet down millions of times on near vertical ground for a day and a half - nonstop! Amazing! It was great to talk to Chris and his family, including his younger brother, Andy.

The HR100 is an unbelievable test of endurance and willpower. Several people asked me if I would try it. We'll see . . .

Some pics from the 2011 HR100.

Julien Chorier at Ouray
Nick Clark at Ouray
Dakota at Ouray
Dakota sitting for a "meal"
SJS50 Champ Joe being aided by the healing Anton

Karl Melter loading up
Julien Chorier closing fast and far too fresh!
Julien Chorier winning the HR100 by almost two hours!
Dakota Jones approaching the finish
Daniel Levy (l) and Clark Fox finish hand in hand.
Diana Finkel winning the 2011 HR100